Business

Coffee chain employing adults with disabilities opens Houston location

Bitty & Beau’s Coffee employs more than 400 adults with disabilities in 17 shops across 12 states and the District of Columbia. Employees make “at least minimum wage.”

Bitty & Beau's Coffee
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee shop opened in Rice Village. The shop employs people with special needs and has opened stores all across the nation.

A new coffee shop opened in Houston's Rice Village on Saturday. It isn't newsworthy because of the coffee it serves — but because of who's serving.

Bitty & Beau's Coffee calls itself a "human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop." The North Carolina-based national chain employs adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The shop is named after two people with Down Syndrome — 13-year-old Bitty and 18-year-old Beau, the children of co-founder Amy Wright.

"It’s staggering to learn that 80% of people with disabilities are unemployed in our country," she said. "And we started thinking forward and thought, we don’t want that future for our kids."

She started the business in 2016 with about 40 employees. The next year, Wright was recognized as CNN's "hero of the year."

Now, Bitty & Beau's Coffee employs more than 400 adults with disabilities in 17 shops across 12 states and the District of Columbia. Employees make "at least minimum wage," according to Wright.

"I think having a job gives a person a sense of identity," she said. "To earn a paycheck and to be able to save for their futures and be a part of the economic fabric of our country is important ... It’s an affirming, positive place to be, and that’s good for everybody."

The chain plans to open locations in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. A Frisco shop is expected to open later this year.

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Dominic Anthony Walsh

Education & Families Reporter

Dominic Anthony Walsh covers education & families for Houston Public Media's enterprise team. His work examines the institutions and policies affecting millions of students and families across Texas, with a focus on Houston — home to the largest school district in the state. He comes to the Bayou City after...

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